Funded By: Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science
* Silent Night Pest Management
* Gidarjil Development Corporation
* Invasive Plant and Animal Services
* Bush to Bay Weed Control
* Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
* Department of Environment and Science
The coastlines of the Burnett Mary region are internationally renowned for its marine turtle nesting sites. These sites support significant breeding populations of loggerhead (Caretta caretta) green (Chelonia mydas) and flatback turtles (Natator depressus). These iconic species experience a range of serious threats to their survival. One of the main dangers is the predation of eggs and hatchlings by invasive species, which have reduced marine turtle numbers drastically.
The Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program, launched in 2014, is an ongoing commitment by the Queensland Government to protect marine turtle sites from feral predators along the Queensland coast.
In particular, this project targets the red fox populations – cunning predators of turtle nests – near beaches where turtle mothers come to nest. Turtle beaches are monitored carefully for fox activity and confirmed fox sightings prompt on-ground action to reduce their numbers. BMRG has partnered, and will continue to partner, with pest control officers and rangers who humanely and efficiently trap and dispose of foxes in areas selected for their close proximity to turtle nesting beaches. This is done with the aim to increase the protection and survivability of the marine turtles and their vulnerable young on these beaches.
The European red fox, introduced to the region, is a primary threat to the marine turtle nests and hatchlings on Queensland beaches. Foxes will dig up the eggs turtles have laid under the sand or catch the hatchings as they head down the beach toward the ocean.
Reducing the number of red foxes is key to the turtle population’s survival on Queensland beaches. The Nest to Ocean program aims to reduce the population of these foxes in areas where the turtle nests have been laid, by engaging certified feral animal control contractors. Areas where foxes have been reported are monitored to confirm the presence of the predators; once confirmed, control work begins on-site with contractors humanely trapping and dispatching the caught foxes.
Nest to Ocean aims to reduce predation of marine turtle eggs and hatchlings by the red fox to increase their survivability while simultaneously increasing understanding of fox population densities and their activity in the management areas.
The current iteration of the Nest to Ocean project, which requires three separate rounds of fox control work between 2021 and 2023, specifically targets invasive red fox sites along the Burnett River and in the Moore Park and Wreck Rock Conservation Park areas.
Volunteers based in areas where the fox control work is being undertaken will monitor the turtles, their nests and their hatchlings throughout the nesting season, and provide data on turtle numbers and behaviours in project areas.
Community engagement is paramount in this project, with goals to educate the public through local community events on the control work being done to protect the turtles.
Work Done to Date:
Since its inception in 2014, six rounds of the Nest to Ocean Project have been completed with the seventh currently underway. Round Seven includes three rounds of work, the first of which has now been completed. This included fox control work and community engagement. The second round of work, including presentations and information sessions to the local community, will wrap up in September 2022.
While plans are underway for the second instalment of work as part of Round Seven, there will still be a third and final iteration of fox control, volunteer data submission and community engagement in the Burnett River, Moore Park and Wreck Rock Conservation Park areas to complete this stage of the Nest to Ocean project.